What’s up with women who share so much?
Two years ago I bought Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine. The book is an autobiographical compilation of essays; stories about her childhood, her dating life and her career. I watched many of her interviews of the press tour for the book and so I was really looking forward to buying the book. And I love Gabrielle Union so I knew I would love the book. However, after buying the book I started seeing people online, particularly on Twitter, talking about the book. And none of the people I saw enjoyed it. A lot of people said that it sounded preachy and “just like Gabrielle Union”. I knew exactly what they meant by “it sounded just like her” because it’s a similar criticism to the one passed on her acting and the roles she plays.
But in 2019 I fell ill and I had nothing but time to read and I started reading the book I had bought almost a year earlier. I loved it. I loved Gabrielle Union’s book. And I’m not just saying that in a fluffy, light-hearted way. I really felt what she had given when she wrote the book. And this is when I realised that I had developed a new appreciation for writers and the work that they put together. Before, I appreciated good writing for the pure, God-given talent that was apparent with every word a gifted writer carefully and skilfully placed alongside the next word. I graded good writing based on how fascinated and impressed I was with how the words landed and settled on the page, the depth and complexity – made to look easy — of the narrative. But because of Gabrielle Union’s book, and because it placed me in a position to re-examine what I believed made text good or well-written, I realised that I can now judge whether something was well-written or not based on what I received to be honesty, generosity of spirit and sacrifice from the writer. And that’s what I got from We’re Going to Need More Wine. Which leads me to the point of this post.
I believe that sharing our stories is one of the most generous and self-sacrificial acts of being there and available to one another. I wouldn’t have this blog if I didn’t believe (with everything in me) in the power of storytelling — also known in psychology as emotional autobiographical storytelling — having the ability to quietly re-direct the course of someone’s life. All because they spent five minutes on someone’s blog, reading someone’s book, listening to a podcast, or even reading a Twitter thread.
In 2016 while I was pregnant and living with my then partner, the relationship was on the brink of ending, I was emotionally distraught, but almost daily I visited a blog called JoHo Moms. There was a particular story that was shared by a mom on the blog that I read repeatedly. I would read this story of this mom who was going through a breakup with the man who was her fiancé and the father of her unborn baby. She didn’t take the chaos that ensued during her pregnancy well, but eventually she managed to turn it all around. I read that story over and over until it made it sound normal for me to think about moving out of the flat I shared with my partner, on the third trimester of my pregnancy. Even though when I moved out of the flat my prayer and goal was that this man would “get his act together” so that he could come back for me and the baby. I was terrified of doing it alone, but because I read the story of someone (who was the age I was when I was pregnant) who did something so brave, I knew that it wasn’t as scary as the fear I’d allowed to overcome me during my pregnancy suggested.
And therefore, when we share our stories we help each other move. We are energetic beings who move. We are not designed to remain stagnant like murky puddles of water. We are powerfully designed to move in dynamism like rivers of living water. That’s what we do when we share, sometimes the most vulnerable parts of ourselves, and sometimes the most raw and unflattering parts; yet they have the momentum to help someone decide whether they’re staying still or moving.
Even though we are physically distant and disconnected from one another, we are meant to be connected. And the universe, in its infinite wisdom and intellect has created ways for us to be connected, yet still apart.
Psychology Today has an article about how sharing your story or emotional autobiographical storytelling has the ability to strengthen your resilience. The article says that by sharing your story you are exercising and strengthening your own resilience muscle. Although I look at it as a humanist obligation that we have toward each other, this article says that when you share your story, it benefits you in these four ways.
And by the way, I consider We’re Going to Need More Wine to be an excellently written book. Honestly, it doesn’t take a lot to move me because my emotions are so easily accessible anyway, but I was moved that she shared things, that in most instances in the book, she didn’t need to, but she shared anyway because they’d be useful and valuable to someone else. And I hope I’ve convinced you of the power and the worth of your story – don’t ever undermine it.